The Stones Strip Down

How great is this anecdote?

“When Mick Jagger had qualms about recording a new Rolling Stones album at his house in France, Keith Richards had a simple retort. “I said to Mick, ‘Listen, once upon a time, we cut a record in the South of France in my house, and it’s called “Exile on Main Street,” and now it’s your turn’,”–Billboard.com

I guess there will be a new album September 6th. If it in any way approaches “Exile on Main Street”, the world will be a better place this fall. Continue reading

“8 year olds, Dude.”- A Digital Shrine

[[image:big_lebowski_ver1.jpg::right:0]]For those who don’t know me very well, my all-time favorite movie is “The Big Lebowski”. It’s simply a masterpiece in the art of film making and anyone who disagrees…..well….you’re sadly mistaken. For a movie so near and dear to my heart, I felt that it should have a place all it’s own on my blog for reflection, interpretation and admiration. I want to simply list a few of my favorite lines from the movie and if any one wants to add to their, please do. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, please rent it now and then pick some of your most life changing scenes to highlight and discuss in the comment section. Warning, this movie contains the following: nudity, lots of “F” words, drug use, creepy interpretive dance, violence and x-rated “doodling”.

“This aggression will not stand, man!”

“You want a toe Dude? I’ll get you a toe.”

“I think it’s down there somewhere. Let me take another look.”

“The Chinaman is NOT the issue here, Dude!”

“The rug really tied the room together”

Please post your favorites if you like……. Continue reading

Lost In The Weeds, Searching for the Barn

Matthew Chapter 13
24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27″The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29″ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”

I have been reading Richard Rohr’s book “Everything Belongs” over the past few days and have been really amazed by his insights. I always love it when I read or hear someone who gives me a completely different perspective on something that I felt I fully understood. The above passage in Matthew 13 is one most anyone who’s grown up in the christian world has heard and read many times. I always read it thinking that it’s some sort of explanation from Jesus that there are bad and good people in this world. A story to show us how the wheat represents the righteous and the weeds represent the wicked. But is a person only good and never bad? Does someone wicked have no goodness in them whatsoever? What does that mean for those who are both wicked and righteous and searching for “the barn”? Here’s what Rohr writes regarding this passage:

“This idea has had little effect on Western moral theology. But we are a mixture of weed and wheat and we always will be. As Luther put it, simul justus et peccator. His whole tradition said we are simultaneously saint and sinner. That’s the mystery of holding weed and wheat together in our one field of life. It takes a lot more patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love than aiming for some illusory perfection that is usually blind to its own faults. The only true perfection available to us is the honest acceptance of our imperfection. If we must have perfection to be happy with ourselves, we have only two choices. We can either blind ourselves to our own evil (and deny the weeds) or we can give up in discouragement (and deny the wheat). But if we put aside perfection and face the tension of having both, then we can hear the good news with open hearts. It takes uncommon humility to carry the dark side of things. It takes a kind of courage to carry the good side, too. Archetypically, “the crucified one” always hangs between theses two thieves-paying the price within himself just as we must do.”

Amen Continue reading

Culture of Revenge

[[image:bushcross-thumb.jpg::right:0]]As Jesus tells us we are to love our enemies, I try to do my best. It’s not always with 100% success rate that I do so….ok maybe it’s more like 15% but I’m doing everything I can to up that average. For whatever reason the person who is hardest for me to love is George W. Bush. I realize that may be silly and I’m ok with that. Some of you may ask me why is HE the hardest. Why Dubya and not the insurgents in Iraq or the hijackers of 9/11? Why not Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden? I guess those are fair examples to bring up, but for some reason I don’t hate those individuals as much as I pity them.

As I’ve thought about this quite a lot, I think it has to do with the fact that this man, George Bush, is our president AND he’s a self professed Christian. He is representing not only our fine citizens to the rest of the world, but he’s also representing followers of Christ. Granted, this is a lofty position to put one’s self in. To represent Christ and be the presider over our great nation all at once is by no means an easy task. I would never dream that I could or would ever want his burden. Maybe it simply is impossible to survive in our american political culture at all and still maintain an honest, holistic journey of giving yourself up and following Jesus. Maybe it’s impossible if you are simply a westernized american citizen. Who knows? For now I’m up for trying my best in faith as I hope we all are.

With all that said, it doesn’t change the fact that George is where he is. He is our president who has the ability to lay out this country’s agenda for making our country stronger and safer as well as setting the tone for our relationships around the globe. In light of these responsibilities, I can’t help but feel cheated by this president and his administration. I also can’t help feeling cheated by the way in which he blatantly fails to represent the love of Christ. He fails to do so in a majority of his policies and, more importantly, his treatment of those who have opposed him.

Obviously the recent investigation of the source of a leak that outed the secret identity of a C.I.A. agent is becoming the most recent example of the kind of “my way or the highway” behavior of the current administration. There is this amazing trend over the time of Bush’s political career where his opponents or any one who discredits his position is immediately attacked. This OP-ED piece by Frank Rich of the New York Times is a very thorough account of the recent events that have led up to what is becoming a very heated investigation. As I read this article I was just so amazed at the apparent willingness by this administration to change it’s story and discredit others with personal attacks (although they left the personal attacks to another self proclaimed man of god, robert novak) in order to clear themselves of any wrongdoing. As Frank Rich put’s it, there is a “culture of revenge” that seeps from the highest levels of this administration. It’s a posture that I find is very troubling in light of the type of “christian” language and religious political leverage used by this president when backing the “hot sins” issues like homosexuality and abortion. Does giving support to George Bush with regards to abortion and gay marriage constitute turning a blind eye to the blatant dishonesty that has come out of this administration? Why are we evangelicals AND post-evangelics content to let this kind of behavior slide? Why do we not hold Bush accountable like any church eldership would hold their pastors accountable?

Maybe I’m just a flaming liberal sissy boy and I’m all worked up over nothing. For those of you who disagree with me, you’ll be so glad to know that I’m just a drummer in a rock band that rarely shaves and wears flip flops a lot. I drive a volvo on which absolutely no christian paraphernalia can be seen. I hated AWANA. I think most contemporary worship music is pretty much garbage. Maybe those facts will put you at ease. I hope so.

I am not looking to pick a fight here. I am just wondering why Bush seems to get a free ride from a vast majority of Christians in this country. If it IS a fight you are looking for, let me quote Bush’s message to the insurgents in Iraq…..”bring it on!” Continue reading

Soundtrack To My Life

Your Life: The Soundtrack

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Opening credits Begin the Begin – R.E.M.
Waking up 7:30 – Pernice Brothers
Average day Not Too Amused – Sebadoh
First date I Met A Girl – Wheat
Falling in love Mystery Girl – Roy Orbison
Love scene Nightswimming – R.E.M.
Fight scene Wrong – Archers of Loaf
Breaking up Lost Cause – Beck
Getting back together Don’t I Hold You – Wheat
Secret love I’m On Fire – Bruce Springsteen
Life’s okay Learning to Fly – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Mental breakdown Millionaire – Queens of the Stone Age
Driving Born in ’69 – Rocket From The Crypt
Learning a lesson Authority Song – John Cougar Mellencamp
Deep thought Everything in It’s Right Place – Radiohead
Flashback A Day In The LIfe – The Beatles
Partying Rocks Off – The Rolling Stones
Happy dance Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder
Regreting Red-Eyed And Blue – Wilco
Long night alone The Shadowlands – Ryan Adams
Death scene Stop Your Crying – Spiritualized
Closing credits Movie Script Ending – Death Cab for Cutie

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Continue reading

Poop.

I’ve read two “Christian” items today that seemed to both come from completely different worlds. The first of the two was this bit from Richard Rohr’s book “Everything Belongs”:

Inherent Unmarketability
How do you make attractive that which is not?
How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability, and nonsuccess?
How do you talk descent when everything is about ascent?
How can you possibly market letting go in a capitalist culture?
How do you present Jesus to a Promethean mind?
How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?
This is not going to work. (admiting this might be my first step)

The second item of the two I read was this.

Both of these items are obviously very different representations of what it looks like to follow Jesus. If you you’ve read my blog at all in the past, then you know that I’m a huge Joel Osteen fan. How can anyone not like a guy who has such great teeth and fantastic hair? As I read this New York Times piece there were several quotes from the writer and those who were interviewed that really struck me. Here are a few:
-“With the waterfalls,” she said, “this really feels like a sanctuary.”

-After $95 million in renovations, including two waterfalls and enough carpeting to cover nine football fields, the arena now belongs to a charismatic church with a congregation of 30,000, revenues of $55 million last year and a television audience in the millions.

-Joel Osteen, the pastor, exhorted a packed house of black, white and Latino worshipers, some of whom arrived three hours early. “What a sight this is. You guys look like victors, not victims,” he said, to a round of applause.

-God, Mr. Osteen preaches, does not want to see people suffering and poor; he wants them to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

-….congregants praised Mr. Osteen for his practical messages….
-With the book’s success, Mr. Osteen said he has forgone his $200,000 salary from the church this year.

-…especially as a result of tithing, which Mr. Osteen tells them will bring even greater rewards.

-….Mr. Osteen makes the Bible “intelligible,”…..

-Mr. Osteen begins each sermon with a joke and follows with anecdotes from his own life, about how through faith he received a house, a parking space, a happy marriage. There is no time to ruminate on theological puzzles, like why God allows people to suffer.

-Walter Gonzalez, 28, said that since he started tithing, he had more money left after paying his bills.

-“The principles in the Bible will work for anybody,” he said. “If you give, you will be blessed. I talk about things for everyday life. I don’t get deep and theological.”

-“Did it feel like church?” he said. “Yes, in a bigger, more extravagant way. No more little storefronts – this is the new face of church.”

And this little portion of the article pretty much sums up the whole attitude of the leadership and the congregation:

“The idea of suffering as a Christian virtue is not part of his worldview,” said Lynn Mitchell, director of religious studies at the University of Houston. “Some call it Christianity Lite – you get all the benefits, but don’t pay attention to the fact that Jesus called for suffering. He doesn’t tackle many of the problems of the world.”

But many among his congregants said he tackled their problems. Mario Cervantes, 38,
said that the church had taught him to name the things he wanted, and that he would receive them. “The Bible says, speak those things that aren’t as if they are,” Mr. Cervantes said.

In short, “Who gives a shit about suffering and injustice elsewhere, at least I got MY SHIT sorted thanks to Joel’s sensible message!”

I’ve never been so close to ruining my computer keyboard with recently eaten p.b. and j. and red wine.

Maybe it’s just me and my weird “deep theological thoughts” but I remember a good amount of the followers of Jesus in the N.T. ended up with a little “missing head” problem. I also find it highly un-nerving that Osteen is quick to relate financial blessing with being faithful to the God, but is at a loss when asked to explain the actual suffering of those in his congregation. Apparently at Osteen’s church when the shit hits the fan, God isn’t involved. But when that magical money appears so you can pay your cable bill, God’s all over that one and has it covered.

Oh well. Here’s to vacant arenas and treating God like a damn B of A.

P.S. If after you read that NYT article and you need to take a bit of a shower, treat yourself to “Everything Belongs” by Richard Rohr. Continue reading

Going Home

I’m standing on the street outside my hotel in Dublin waiting for a cab
to the airport. I’ve been away for a month and it’s gonna be amazing to
get home and see my girls. The next hours cannot go by fast enough.
It’s been a great trip and Europe is an amazing place, but home is
always better. Continue reading

There She Goes…….

The last few days I’ve been hanging out in Scotland and Ireland taking part in some rock music festivals. Yesterday, we were in Scotland playing a festival called T in the Park which is probably the biggest Scottish rock music fest every year. There are the big rock names like Green Day, The Foo Fighters, Audioslave, New Order, etc. Those are all great bands for sure, but the band I play in isn’t really at the level of those other big names. It’s apparent by our record sales but also our backstage situation. We were not a headliner by any means, of course not with all those amazing names previously mentioned, so we were situated in a nice little area backstage that was very pleasant but not in the area of the headliner acts. We are used to this and it is just dandy really. As I sat outside on a park bench table near our trailer backstage, I looked to my right to see who was next to us and I saw a sign next to one of the doors. It simply said “The La’s”. If you don’t think you are not familiar with the British rock band “The La’s”, you’re wrong. They wrote one of the most brilliant rock songs of all time called “There She Goes” that everyone in the world has heard at one point or another. I am a huge fan of this song and this band. It is a song that is so timeless and will truly live on forever.

I sat there with one of my friends and looked at The La’s sitting at the table next to us and said “Those guys have the biggest hit written by any of the bands here by a long shot, but here they are in small little trailer, kicking a little soccer ball for amusement, waiting to go play their set.” I was really taken back by this for some reason. We actually were playing the same stage they were and ended up playing after them in the line-up. It just felt really weird. Apparently the band has dealt with a large amount of bitter internal conflict and drug addiction that eventually led to their demise shortly after their massive, but short success with one album. Now, many years later, they are on their way back to playing and now are threatening to make a new album.

It really made me think about what “greatness” is. The song “There She Goes” is probably one of the most amazing 2:42 seconds in pop/rock music history. It’s an amazing but simple song, but it’s really the only thing the band is recognized by. The band never really were able to follow it up in any way because the success and possibilities the success of that song brought only led to disfunction and shattered possibilities.

Yesterday, at the festival, they seemed utterly unrecognizable to anyone. I had to say to more than a few people “You know….The La’s…..” only to get a confused look. Then I would have to start singing the song “Theerre She GOOOOEs” and then they’d say “OH YEAH! Those guys! Are they still alive?” It made me a little sad but also showed me another example of how fragile our gifts are. Too often being talented is just around the corner from being an asshole. It made me feel thankful that God has been able to share with me my gifts but has also given them to me on a condition that I KNOW where they come from. They are only on loan for the moment.

I guess in the end, we are all just renting to own. We use the greatness of God that he’s blessed us with to hopefully make the world a better place for others. If we get that somewhat right, maybe we then arrive at the full experience of God’s greatness and love a little later on.

If you are still unsure of what song I’m talking about, download it at iTunes music store now please. It’s probably the best song you could ever spend 99 cents on. Continue reading